I read this for my Shakespeare class. This is one of my least favorite of Shakespeare’s plays; one of the worst Shakespeare plays, I think. I “had” to read it for a class and dissect it, and that certainly did not invite me to enjoy the play, but I still do not think I would have enjoyed it much anyway.
I felt like this play had so many characters, but I am not sure that it contained any more than other plays, but the impression probably came from the fact that no characters really stood far and above any others in development and importance. The play has one and only one truly likable character and that is, Edgar, the legitimate son of Gloucester, and he does not dominate any more than does anyone else. Any other tolerable characters rarely appear.
The play is mainly coarseness, vileness, and death, and Lear, the one wronged, is an egotistical old fool, so it is rather difficult to feel sorry for him. Shakespeare set this play in pre-Christian Britain, and the play is more brutal, senseless, and hopeless (which was a point in our class, and I think something of the point for our last essay) than Shakespeare’s other plays. Edgar and some good and “better” characters survive amid the wreck and ruin, but I did not really know those characters; they just existed. The play is rather blah overall.
Sexual crudity included of course.